SALINAS — Beginning with Friday night’s game between Seaside High and North Salinas High at Rabobank Stadium, the Salinas Union High School District will use metal detectors to screen spectators at home football games for the remainder of the season.
The policy applies to all five Salinas Union high school campuses: Alisal High School, Everett Alvarez High School, North Salinas High School, Rancho San Juan High School, and Salinas High School.
Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Salinas Union Superintendent Dan Burns said bringing metal detectors into football games as an added precaution was something the district had been talking about for more than a year. .
“It’s not a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “We have done the assessment and looked at how we can keep people safe at our events. … These types of protocols just seem to be consistent with what high schools are starting to implement in these places.
In a statement announcing the change Thursday, Burns explained that the heightened security measures come in response to an increase in negative incidents at sporting events at local high schools and across the country.
“In all of our learning and competitive settings, the safety and security of our students, staff and community is of the utmost importance,” Burns said in the statement. “Over the years, we have been proactive in implementing safety measures at sports competitions to ensure that the focus of events remains positive sports competition.”
Last month, a series of incidents at Hollister High School in San Benito County during a football game against Salinas High prompted local authorities to intervene and later campus leaders to issue new policies for football game spectators.
During the September 23 game, deputies from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office arrested four people, including three minors. Authorities responded to two fights that broke out, one of which involved a knife. The deputies were also threatened and arrested during the match.
Hollister High responded with updated expectations for the campus community. Starting this week, the school is using metal detectors to screen fans, as well as implementing a no-bag rule and allowing only Hollister High and Team School students visitor to attend games (all others must apply for a guest pass). Entrance to the school’s homecoming ball this weekend will also require metal detector screening.
Last week, King City High School announced it would begin using metal detectors at home football games, also citing recent events.
The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, when asked about securing school sporting events, assured that “safety is always a priority for MPUSD.”
“In addition to a venue administrator in charge of each event, for large sporting events such as home football matches, we contract with security companies, provide overtime hours for security personnel on site and are coordinating with local law enforcement so they are aware of events to provide additional support if needed,” the district wrote in a statement to the Herald on Friday, adding that it had not until now had no incidents during this school year.
In addition to adding metal detectors, Salinas Union is maintaining the security measures already in place for football games, such as checking adult bags at the entrance, checking student ID cards and removing spectators who cause disturbance.
The district is asking spectators to plan ahead and get to games early to accommodate restricted access.